Centre to stay open despite criticisms

Oakington Immigration Reception Centre could remain open into next year as the Home Office increases the number of asylum seekers it detains and removes from the country.

The Cambridgeshire centre, which was found to have a subculture of racism and abuse in a report last year by the prisons ombudsman, Stephen Shaw, was due to close in the autumn.

But a Home Office spokesperson said this week that the centre would remain open until the end of the year to cope with an increase in deportations of failed asylum seekers ordered by home secretary John Reid in July.

She also said it was “exploring the possibility” of keeping Oakington open “beyond 2006”.

The Refugee Council said the decision to keep the centre open demonstrated the Home Office’s excessive use of detention. A spokesperson for the council said: “Nobody should be detained unless there is substantial evidence to prove it is absolutely necessary.”

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